Poll Suggests Most in Baghdad
Don't Want Troops to Leave Too Quickly

WILL LESTER, Associated Press Writer
Monday, October 13, 2003
©2003 Associated Press

(10-13) 22:29 PDT WASHINGTON (AP) -- When Gallup set out recently to poll Baghdad residents, the biggest surprise may have been the public's reaction to the questioners: Almost everyone responded to the pollsters' questions, with some pleading for a chance to give their opinions.

"The interviews took more than an hour to do, people were extremely cooperative with open-ended questions," said Richard Burkholder, director of international polling for Gallup. "People went on and on."

But many of those Iraqis still have sharply mixed feelings about the U.S. military presence.

The Gallup poll found that 71 percent of the capital city's residents felt U.S. troops should not leave in the next few months. Just 26 percent felt the troops should leave that soon.

However, a sizable minority felt that circumstances could occur in which attacks against the troops could be justified. Almost one in five, 19 percent, said attacks could be justified, and an additional 17 percent said they could be in some situations.

These mixed feelings in Baghdad come at a time when many in the United States are urging that the troops be brought home soon.

Almost six in 10 in the poll, 58 percent, said that U.S. troops in Baghdad have behaved fairly well or very well, with one in 10 saying "very well." Twenty 20 percent said the troops have behaved fairly badly and 9 percent said very badly.

Gallup, one of the nation's best-known polling operations, hired more than 40 questioners, mostly Iraqi citizens directed by survey managers who have helped with other Gallup polling in Arab countries. Respondents were told the poll was being done for media both in Iraq and outside their country, but no mention was made that the American polling firm was running it.

To conduct the poll, Gallup did interviews face-to-face in people's homes chosen at random from all geographic sectors of the city, and more than nine in 10 agreed to participate, at least double the response rate for many U.S. telephone polls. Pollsters in the United States have an increasingly difficult time getting cooperation from people called on the phone.

"This is the way we did polling in the United States before telephone ownership got to the point that we could do reliable phone surveys," Burkholder said in an interview with The Associated Press. The poll of 1,178 adults was taken between Aug. 28 and Sept. 4 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Burkholder said Gallup plans to do further polling in Baghdad in coming months and hopes eventually to expand throughout Iraq. Gallup plans to release much of the data through its subscription service, the Gallup Poll Tuesday Briefing.

Gallup started its operation in Baghdad because it felt Baghdad would have the lowest security risks after the war, but that hasn't turned out to be the case, Burkholder said. Six in 10 Baghdad residents said that within the past four weeks they had been afraid at times to go outside their homes during the day.

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